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Health Break: Why you need an action plan if you have a condition that could flare up

Person using an inhaler with text overlay of "Why you need an action plan if you have a condition that could flare up"

A podcast for UPMC Health Plan members, Health Break is your quick guide to caring for your mental and physical health, prioritizing wellness, and making the most of your health insurance plan.

Episode 33: Take a Health Break with Dr. Anthony DeFail

Dr. DeFail takes a Health Break to share why it’s important to have an action plan if you have a chronic condition. 


Episode transcript:

Camille: Welcome to Health Break by UPMC Health Plan, your quick guide to health, wellness, and how to make the most of your health insurance plan. I’m your host, Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith. I help to oversee the quality of the plans and programs we offer at UPMC Health Plan.

Angelo: And I’m your co-host, Angelo Bartic. I’m a health coach who works with our members on making healthy lifestyle habits and setting goals. This is your…Health Break.

Camille: Hey everyone. In today’s episode, we’re discovering why it’s important to have an action plan if you have a medical condition. And here with us to discuss it is Dr. Anthony DeFail. Dr. Tony, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. DeFail: Thank you for having me here today.

Camille: So my first question for you today is, what is an action plan?

Dr. DeFail: So, an action plan is a checklist of things for you or your loved ones to do if you have a flare of your chronic condition or an acute medical condition that needs addressed.

Camille: How do you create this action plan?

Dr. DeFail: First of all, you need to get a copy of your medical history. Your medical history is a list of your current medications, allergies, current and past medical conditions and surgeries, providers and their phone numbers, and an emergency contact list of your family. If you don’t have a medical history, it’s very important that you talk with your health care provider and walk through the steps involved in creating one.

Once you have one, it’s very important to also have a copy whenever you need it. In fact, my parents have a copy in their car, in their luggage, and in my mom’s purse, and they’ve used it multiple times. Again, it’s very important to have multiple copies ’cause if they’re needed, the health care providers will likely take them from you. Just having a medical history will help out a ton if you’re in an acute situation. It allows the providers to understand what’s gone on in your past and what you need specifically based on your medical conditions. Besides having a medical history, knowing what to do if you have an acute flare of your chronic condition or an acute medical condition is very important and can save time and potentially your life.

Camille: Wow, sounds important to create an action plan. How can an action plan be helpful for people with existing medical conditions?

Dr. DeFail: What an action plan can do is give you those next steps. When you’re having a flare of a condition and you’re feeling ill, it’s really scary and it’s tough to figure out what to do. So getting this action plan in place ahead of time can really help you out and give you that extra sense of calm when things are going wrong. Creating this action plan can be as simple as knowing what to do if you run out of your medications or lose them. It may be as complicated as knowing to take an extra dose of a medication or a rescue medication when you have a flare of one of your chronic conditions. Again, this is why it is very important that you walk through the action plan with your health care provider and have it in place when things go wrong.

Camille: Those are all the questions I have for you, Dr. Tony. Thank you for taking a Health Break with us.

Dr. DeFail: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.

Camille: Don’t forget, create an action plan for your health to keep yourself and your loved ones informed and prepared.

Find show notes and more information at Join us as we continue exploring health, wellness, and how to make the most of your health insurance plan in the next episode of Health Break.

This podcast is for informational and educational purposes. It is not medical care or advice. Individuals in need of medical care should consult their personal care provider. Views and opinions expressed by the hosts and guests are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of UPMC Health Plan and its employees.

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About Dr. Anthony DeFail: 

Headshot photo of Dr. Anthony DeFail

Dr. DeFail is Associate Vice President of Medical Service for the Commercial Market at UPMC Health Plan. In this role, he works with the Commercial, Clinical, Data Analytics, and Population Health teams to develop and implement innovative programs and partnerships to improve clinical outcomes and influence medical cost trends. 

Dr. DeFail has more than 18 years of experience in the medical field. After working as a hospitalist for 10 years, he began working with various quality improvement and operational excellence programs across a range of clinical areas. He also served as a physician adviser for four years, leading length-of-stay, readmission, and level of care teams for a Pittsburgh-based hospital. He then transitioned to MedExpress as the Vice President of Medical Operations of Employer Health Services. There, he helped develop medical policy, chronic disease management programs, and national medical weight-loss programs. He then served as Chief Medical Officer for Level2, a digital platform to manage care for members with type 2 diabetes. In that role, he helped build machine learning algorithms and a 50-state medical clinic scaled to the company’s virtual care platform. Dr. DeFail earned a doctorate in osteopathy from the Philadelphia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his rotating osteopathic internship and allopathic residency in internal medicine at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with an East Asian studies minor, from Gettysburg College. 

About Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith: 

Camille Clarke-Smith, EdD, is a program director in the Quality Improvement, Medicare Stars Department at UPMC Health Plan, where she leads the Medicare Faith and Wellness Program, a 3- to 12-week health and wellness challenge. She is also the founder of the nonprofit Transforming the Health of African American Women (THAW) Inc. She earned a doctorate in health and physical activity education from the University of Pittsburgh in addition to a master’s in exercise science and a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Carlow University. 

*RxWell is available to UPMC Health Plan members who are 14 years old or older.